Pediatrics FAQ

Patient Info

First Visit Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Salem in Salem, NH

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A Pediatric dentist is a medical doctor specializing in the oral health of children from infancy through early adulthood. They’ve received special training to treat a wide variety of dental problems common to developing mouths. Pediatric dentists are trained and qualified to care for children with special needs and work with pediatricians to develop a comprehensive patient plan that combines oral health with total health care.

What are some ways to prepare my child for THEIR first dental visit?

The best way to prepare your child for the first visit is to be open that they are visiting the dentist. Explain that the doctor will count their teeth, take pictures of their teeth and even tickle their teeth. Practice opening and closing their mouth at home and counting. Let them know they will be receiving a “goodie” bag and that kids enjoy their visits to the dentist.

Can my child’s cavities be fixed the same day as my first appointment?

Generally we do not provide treatment immediately after a first exam. The two most important goals of our office is the overall experience and the quality of care. We do our best to make it an easy and fun experience for our patients. This often requires we see them back on a day when they are fresh and we can schedule sufficient time to give them extended attention. However, we respect your time and there are some instances when it may be possible to receive same day treatment.

Are X-rays safe?

Our office policies regarding x-rays follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD), the Washington Society of Pediatric Dentists (WSPD), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Medical Association (AMA).

We believe in using technology wisely. We use digital x-rays, which produce a significantly lower level of radiation. We use proper protection (thyroid collars) for our patients. Please be assured that dental x-ray radiation is equivalent to the radiation received from the sun when walking outdoors on a normal day. Digital X-rays can reduce your child’s exposure to radiation by up to 80 percent!

Our x-ray policy is dependent on the child’s risk factors regarding the development of dental caries. After the initial examination, we evaluate a child’s risk factors and recommend x-rays accordingly.

Is Fluoride safe?

Fluoride is a common mineral found naturally that substantially reduces your child’s risk of cavities. In fact, it is the single most effective method known to prevent dental caries. Fluoride is found in our tap water, toothpaste and even in some foods. Fluoride is highly recommended by all major dental associations, and is completely safe when used in the appropriate amounts.

Prevention is one of the most important aspect of pediatric dentistry and oral health. We use every safe and reliable means to reduce the chance your child will have cavities. We welcome discussions of fluoride from concerned parents . The ultimate decision is up to you.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth? What about night feeding?

Frequent nighttime feeding has been associated with dental caries. It is recommended to wipe the child’s mouth after nursing. Bacteria may hide around the tongue and cheeks and can be present even before the teeth erupt.

Sleeping at night with milk or juice is a substantial risk factor for cavities. We encourage the use of a cup by the age of 1.

What should I do if my child sucks their thumb?

Finger or pacifier sucking has been shown to be nurturing and calming to the developing psyche of a child. However, depending on the frequency, intensity and duration of the habit, sucking can reshape the facial skeleton or jaws and move teeth into improper positions. Most children spontaneously stop sucking as they get older but positive reinforcement by the time the child is 24-36 months has been shown to be the most successful method of breaking the habit. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or if he sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

Do you offer sedation dentistry?

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety in children.

If necessary, we can also schedule your child to have the work under general anesthesia. We partner with a hospital to perform day surgery. 

What if my child is very scared or traumatized from a previous dental experience?

This is a very common concern that we face often with parents. Our staff and the techniques we use at Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Salem significantly reduces your child’s anxiety levels. We are a different office, different staff, and have a different approach to ensure your child’s comfort level. Many parents and patients are impressed at our abilities to provide a high level of comfort when treating apprehensive and traumatized children.

Why are baby teeth so important? They will be replaced anyway.

It is important to maintain the health of the primary or baby teeth to establish a good foundation of oral health for your child. Neglected primary or baby teeth frequently lead to problems that can damage the developing permanent (adult) teeth, cause pain, dangerous infections and create a lifetime of dental problems.

Primary baby teeth are essential for proper chewing and eating: they are the first steps in the digestive system. They contribute to speech development, provide space for the permanent teeth to erupt, and encourage normal development of the jaw and surrounding muscles. They also contribute to building good self-esteem.

What can I do to prevent cavities?

For infants, we recommend using a wet washcloth to gently wipe the plaque from your baby’s teeth and gums. Do this after the morning feeding and before your child goes to sleep for the night. Once your child’s teeth erupt, avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle with anything other than water.

Toddlers just starting school need to have an adult help them brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily. The fine motor skills used in brushing don’t develop until ages 7-8. Your child can be ready to brush their teeth unsupervised if they are able to write in cursive.

Many children respond well to using an electric toothbrush. Ask us about when to start and how to introduce this into your child’s tooth routine.

Be sure your child receives regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. And of course, always teach and encourage your children to make healthy food choices at meals and for snacks.

What are sealants?

A sealant is a clear or white resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars). Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque and acid to protect the decay-prone groove areas of the teeth on the chewing surfaces. Most cavities are found in molars. Sealants have been found to prevent cavities when applied early, usually just after the teeth have erupted (around age six or seven). Sealants do not protect between teeth, so it’s important to continue to brush and floss daily when a sealant is applied.